I remember that I had spent most of June 23rd thinking about attending a Thursday-night premiere of Independence Day: Resurgence. For some reason (possibly because reviews were horrible), I stayed home and found myself watching CNN. By early evening, I was transfixed to cable news as they told the story of the Brexit referendum vote in England. It was the first time in a long time that I witnessed professional newscasters appear dumbstruck, as if the whole world (or at least a significant part of it) had turned upside down. It was fascinating to think that such a monumental decision could be made and that so few people seem to have predicted it. If that referendum wasn’t a sign of things to come, I don’t know what could’ve done the job.
With the Brexit aftermath, I spent some time reading some British websites to see what was going on. I came across a site, Spiked, that purported to be a humanist/Libertarian website that seemed both to be highly opinionated and to have highly opinionated commenters. It’s a site that takes the concern of freedom of speech to an almost uncomfortable level (so I often don’t agree with [or even understand]some of what is said there). It was fascinating to see the first hints of revolution against “the global elites” and “the cosmopolitan.” It was sobering to see charges of racism and xenophobia. It was intriguing to speculate (and to watch others speculate) as they tried to figure out what would happen next to the land of Dickens and Shakespeare and Austen.
The folks over at Spiked recently put together a video that summarized the events and trains of thought rooted in the Brexit referendum. It’s fascinating to watch and think through.
It’s fascinating because it mirrors (predicted?) the current American situation so well. Which group is doing the revolting (rurals or cosmopolitans)? Where does final decision-making power rest (electoral college? parliament?)? What do you do when one demographic long thought “done with” seems to raise it’s head in some kind of defiance (is it generational? is it social class?)? And how in the world does a country move forward when each foot is pointed in a different direction?
It’s interesting to me that this event didn’t cause our own country to stop and take stock. It’s like we ignored the rumble of fault lines that really demanded our attention. The evening of June 23rd reminded me (as either prelude or beginning) that the course is not set and that whatever path we are on remains windy and unclear. To think otherwise is dangerously presumptuous.